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CASE NO: 1

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-32476 October 20, 1970
SIMEON G. DEL ROSARIO, petitioner,
vs.
UBALDO CARBONELL, JAIME N. FERRER, LINO PATAJO and CESAR
MILAFLOR, respondents.
Simeon G. del Rosario in his own behalf.
Office of the Solicitor General for respondents
MAKASIAR, J.:.
This petition for declaratory relief was filed pursuant to Sec. 19 of R.A. No. 6132 by petitioner
Simeon G. del Rosario against the National Treasurer as well as the Chairman and members of
the Commission on Elections, praying that the entire R.A. No. 6132 be declared
unconstitutional.
The Solicitor General filed his answer to the petition in behalf of respondents.
The petition does not contain sufficient averments as to the particular right of the petitioner that
may be affected by any provision of the law. Assuming as true his
allegation which respondents specifically deny that he is a temporary staff writer of the
Weekly Nation Magazine, a permanent international Research Officer of the Southeast Asia
Treaty Organization since October 5, 1957 and as such is on home leave and awaiting recall
and re-instatement to his post in Bangkok, Thailand by the Department of Foreign Affairs, the
same does not indicate that he is a prospective candidate or is a member of any political party
or any civic, religious, professional, or labor organization whose rights may be impaired by Sec.
6(A), par. 5 and Sec. 8(a) of R.A. No. 6132, which he challenges as oppressive.
Because he assails the appropriation of twenty-nine million pesos in Sec. 21 of the law as
simply a waste of public funds, because there is no time limit for the duration of the
Constitutional Convention, which may dissipate its time in pointless discussion without reaching
any consensus or conclusion and thus degenerate into a "Debating Club, Unlimited," his interest
as a taxpayer on this score to contest the validity of the law may be sustained.

1. The charge of petitioner that Congress abdicated its power as a constituent body to propose
amendments in favor of the Constitutional Convention, is refuted by Art. XV of the Constitution
which authorizes Congress sitting as a Constituent Assembly either to propose amendments or
to call a convention for the purpose. The choice of either alternative is solely committed to
Congress, which cannot be inquired into nor interfered with by this Tribunal, the same being
purely a political question.1
2. Likewise, whether there is necessity for amending the Constitution is also addressed to the
wise judgment of Congress acting as a Constituent Assembly, against which the Court cannot
pit its own judgment.
3. And whether the Constitutional Convention will only propose amendments to the Constitution
or entirely overhaul the present Constitution and propose an entirely new Constitution based on
an ideology foreign to the democratic system, is of no moment; because the same will be
submitted to the people for ratification. Once ratified by the sovereign people, there can be no
debate about the validity of the new Constitution.
4. The fact that the present Constitution may be revised and replaced with a new one by the
Constitutional Convention called in Resolutions Nos. 2 and 4, respectively, of 1967 and 1969,
because under Sec. 6(A) par. 5, of the law, a candidate may include a concise statement of his
principal constitutional reforms, programs or policies, is no argument against the validity of the
law because "amendment" includes the "revision" or total overhaul of the entire Constitution. At
any rate, whether the Constitution is merely amended in part or revised or totally changed would
become immaterial the moment the same is ratified by the sovereign people.
5. This Court, in a decision dated September 11, 1970 in the cases of Imbong vs. Ferrer, et
al. and Gonzales vs. Ferrer, et al., G.R. Nos. L-32432 and L-32443, held that neither R.A. No.
6132 nor its Sections 2, 5 and 8(a), paragraph one, can he declared unconstitutional.
6. This Court also sustained the validity of Sec 4 and the second paragraph of Sec. 8(a) of R.A.
No. 6132 in a decision dated September 3, 1970. 2
7. Petitioner impugns the constitutionality of the title of R.A. No. 6132 as embracing more than
one subject and is therefore violative of paragraph 1, Sec. 21 of Art. VI of the Constitution,
simply because it failed to include the phrase "TO PROPOSE AMENDMENTS TO THE
CONSTITUTION OF THE PHILIPPINES."
The title of the law reads "An Act Implementing Resolution of Both Houses Numbered Two as
Amended by Resolution of Both Houses Numbered Four of the Congress of the Philippines
Calling for a Constitutional Convention, Providing for Proportional Representation Therein and
Other Details Relating to the Election of Delegates to and the Holding of the Constitutional
Convention, Repealing for the Purpose Republic Act Four Thousand Nine Hundred Fourteen,
and for Other Purposes."

It is patent from the aforequoted title that the inclusion of the phrase "To propose amendments
to the Constitution of the Philippines" is superfluous and therefore unnecessary; because the
very title expressly states that the act implements Resolutions of Both Houses Nos. 2 and 4,
respectively of 1967 and 1969, and both Resolutions Nos. 2 and 4 likewise categorically state in
their titles that the Constitutional Convention called for therein is "to propose amendments to the
Constitution of the Philippines," which phrase is reiterated in Sec. 1 of both Resolutions.
Moreover, the power to propose amendments to the Constitution is implicit in the call for the
convention itself, whose raison d'etre is to revise the present Constitution. Consequently, there
is no fraud or surprise that is perpetrated by the questioned title on the legislature and the
public, which is sought to be avoided by the constitutional requirement that only one subject
shall be embraced in the bill which shall be expressed in the title thereof.
Furthermore, it is not required that the title of the bill be an index to the body of the act or be
comprehensive in matters of detail. It is enough that it fairly indicates the general subject and
reasonably covers all the provisions of the act so as not to mislead Congress or the people.3 All
the details provided for in R.A. No. 6132 are germane to and are comprehended by its title.
WHEREFORE, the prayer in the petition is hereby denied and R.A. No. 6132 is not
unconstitutional. Without costs.
Reyes, J.B.L., Actg. C.J., Dizon, Makalintal and Castro, JJ., concur.
Zaldivar, J., reserves his vote.
Fernando J., concurs and dissents in accordance with his separate opinion in Imbong v.
Comelec, L-32432 and Gonzalez v. Comelec, L-32443.

CASE NO: 2
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-44143 August 31, 1988
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff,
vs.
EUSEBIO NAZARIO, accused-appellant.

The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.


Teofilo Ragodon for accused-appellant.

SARMIENTO, J.:
The petitioner was charged with violation of certain municipal ordinances of the municipal
council of Pagbilao, in Quezon province. By way of confession and avoidance, the petitioner
would admit having committed the acts charged but would claim that the ordinances are
unconstitutional, or, assuming their constitutionality, that they do not apply to him in any event.
The facts are not disputed:
This defendant is charged of the crime of Violation of Municipal Ordinance in an
information filed by the provincial Fiscal, dated October 9, 1968, as follows:
That in the years 1964, 1965 and 1966, in the Municipality of
Pagbilao, Province of Quezon, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused,
being then the owner and operator of a fishpond situated in the
barrio of Pinagbayanan, of said municipality, did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously refuse and fail to pay the
municipal taxes in the total amount of THREE HUNDRED SIXTY
TWO PESOS AND SIXTY TWO CENTAVOS (P362.62), required
of him as fishpond operator as provided for under Ordinance No.
4, series of 1955, as amended, inspite of repeated demands made
upon him by the Municipal Treasurer of Pagbilao, Quezon, to pay
the same.
Contrary to law.
For the prosecution the following witnesses testified in substance as follows;
MIGUEL FRANCIA, 39 years of age, married, farmer and resident of Lopez,
Quezon
In 1962 to 1967, I resided at Pinagbayanan, Pagbilao, Quezon. I know the
accused as I worked in his fishpond in 1962 to 1964. The fishpond of Nazario is
at Pinagbayanan, Pagbilao, Quezon. I worked in the clearing of the fishpond, the
construction of the dikes and the catching of fish.
On cross-examination, this witness declared:

I worked with the accused up to March 1964.


NICOLAS MACAROLAY, 65 years of age, married, copra maker and resident of
Pinagbayanan, Pagbilao, Quezon
I resided at Pinagbayanan, Pagbilao, Quezon since 1959 up to the present. I
know the accused since 1959 when he opened a fishpond at Pinagbayanan,
Pagbilao, Quezon. He still operates the fishpond up to the present and I know
this fact as I am the barrio captain of Pinagbayanan.
On cross-examination, this witness declared:
I came to know the accused when he first operated his fishpond since 1959.
On re-direct examination, this witness declared:
I was present during the catching of fish in 1967 and the accused was there.
On re-cross examination, this witness declared:
I do not remember the month in 1962 when the accused caught fish.
RODOLFO R. ALVAREZ, 45 years old, municipal treasurer of Pagbilao, Quezon,
married
As Municipal Treasurer I am in charge of tax collection. I know the accused even
before I was Municipal Treasurer of Pagbilao. I have written the accused a letter
asking him to pay his taxes (Exhibit B). Said letter was received by the accused
as per registry return receipt, Exhibit B-1. The letter demanded for payment of
P362.00, more or less, by way of taxes which he did not pay up to the present.
The former Treasurer, Ceferino Caparros, also wrote a letter of demand to the
accused (Exhibit C). On June 28, 1967, I sent a letter to the Fishery Commission
(Exhibit D), requesting information if accused paid taxes with that office. The
Commission sent me a certificate (Exhibits D-1, D-2 & D-3). The accused had a
fishpond lease agreement. The taxes unpaid were for the years 1964, 1965 and
1966.
On cross-examination, this witness declared:
I have demanded the taxes for 38.10 hectares.
On question of the court, this witness declared:
What I was collecting from the accused is the fee on fishpond operation, not
rental.

The prosecution presented as part of their evidence Exhibits A, A-1, A-2, B, B-2,
C, D, D-1, D-2, D-3, E, F, F-1 and the same were admitted by the court, except
Exhibits D, D-1, D-2 and D-3 which were not admitted for being immaterial.
For the defense the accused EUSEBIO NAZARIO, 48 years of age, married,
owner and general manager of the ZIP Manufacturing Enterprises and resident of
4801 Old Sta. Mesa, Sampaloc, Manila, declared in substance as follows:
I have lived in Sta. Mesa, Manila, since 1949. I buy my Residence Certificates at
Manila or at San Juan. In 1964, 1965 and 1966, I was living in Manila and my
business is in Manila and my family lives at Manila. I never resided at Pagbilao,
Quezon. I do not own a house at Pagbilao. I am a lessee of a fishpond located at
Pagbilao, Quezon, and I have a lease agreement to that effect with the Philippine
Fisheries Commission marked as Exhibit 1. In 1964, 1965 and 1966, the contract
of lease, Exhibit 1, was still existing and enforceable. The Ordinances Nos. 4, 15
and 12, series of 1955, 1965 and 1966, were translated into English by the
Institute of National Language to better understand the ordinances. There were
exchange of letters between me and the Municipal Treasurer of Pagbilao
regarding the payment of the taxes on my leased fishpond situated at Pagbilao.
There was a letter of demand for the payment of the taxes by the treasurer
(Exhibit 3) which I received by mail at my residence at Manila. I answered the
letter of demand, Exhibit 3, with Exhibit 3-A. I requested an inspection of my
fishpond to determine its condition as it was not then in operation. The Municipal
Treasurer Alvarez went there once in 1967 and he found that it was destroyed by
the typhoon and there were pictures taken marked as Exhibits 4, 4-A, 4-B and
4C. I received another letter of demand, Exhibit 5, and I answered the same
(Exhibit 5-A). I copied my reference quoted in Exhibit 5-A from Administrative
Order No. 6, Exhibit 6. I received another letter of demand from Tomas Ornedo,
Acting Municipal Treasurer of Pagbilao, dated February 16, 1966, Exhibit 7, and I
answered the same with the letter marked as Exhibit 7-A, dated February 26,
1966. I received another letter of demand from Treasurer Alvarez of Pagbilao,
Exhibit 8, and I answered the same (Exhibit 8-A). In 1964, I went to Treasurer
Caparros to ask for an application for license tax and he said none and he told
me just to pay my taxes. I did not pay because up to now I do not know whether I
am covered by the Ordinance or not. The letters of demand asked me to pay
different amounts for taxes for the fishpond. Because under Sec. 2309 of the
Revised Administrative Code, municipal taxes lapse if not paid and they are
collecting on a lapsed ordinance. Because under the Tax Code, fishermen are
exempted from percentage tax and privilege tax. There is no law empowering the
municipality to pass ordinance taxing fishpond operators.
The defense presented as part of their evidence Exhibits 1, 2, 3, 3-A, 4, 4-B, 4-B,
4-C, 5, 5-A, 6, 6-A, 6-B, 6-C, 7, 7-A, 8 and 8-A and the same were admitted by
the court.

From their evidence the prosecution would want to show to the court that the
accused, as lessee or operator of a fishpond in the municipality of Pagbilao,
refused, and still refuses, to pay the municipal taxes for the years 1964, 1965
and 1966, in violation of Municipal Ordinance No. 4, series of 1955, as amended
by Municipal Ordinance No. 15, series of 1965, and finally amended by Municipal
Ordinance No. 12, series of 1966.
On the other hand, the accused, by his evidence, tends to show to the court that
the taxes sought to be collected have already lapsed and that there is no law
empowering municipalities to pass ordinances taxing fishpond operators. The
defense, by their evidence, tried to show further that, as lessee of a forest land to
be converted into a fishpond, he is not covered by said municipal ordinances;
and finally that the accused should not be taxed as fishpond operator because
there is no fishpond yet being operated by him, considering that the supposed
fishpond was under construction during the period covered by the taxes sought
to be collected.
Finally, the defendant claims that the ordinance in question is ultra vires as it is
outside of the power of the municipal council of Pagbilao, Quezon, to enact; and
that the defendant claims that the ordinance in question is ambiguous and
uncertain.
There is no question from the evidences presented that the accused is a lessee
of a parcel of forest land, with an area of 27.1998 hectares, for fishpond
purposes, under Fishpond Lease Agreement No. 1066, entered into by the
accused and the government, through the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural
Resources on August 21, 1959.
There is no question from the evidences presented that the 27.1998 hectares of
land leased by the defendant from the government for fishpond purposes was
actually converted into fishpond and used as such, and therefore defendant is an
operator of a fishpond within the purview of the ordinance in question. 1
The trial Court 2 returned a verdict of guilty and disposed as follows:
VIEWED IN THE LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the Court finds the accused guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of violation of Municipal Ordinance No. 4, series of 1955, as
amended by Ordinance No. 15, series of 1965 and further amended by Ordinance No. 12,
series of 1966, of the Municipal Council of Pagbilao, Quezon; and hereby sentences him to pay
a fine of P50.00, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency at the rate of P8.00 a day,
and to pay the costs of this proceeding.
SO ORDERED. 3
In this appeal, certified to this Court by the Court of Appeals, the petitioner alleges that:

I.
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT DECLARING THAT ORDINANCE NO. 4, SERIES OF
1955, AS AMENDED BY ORDINANCE NO. 15, SERIES OF 1965, AND AS FURTHER
AMENDED BY ORDINANCE NO. 12, SERIES OF 1966, OF THE MUNICIPALITY OF
PAGBILAO, QUEZON, IS NULL AND VOID FOR BEING AMBIGUOUS AND UNCERTAIN.
II.
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT THE ORDINANCE IN QUESTION, AS
AMENDED, IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL FOR BEING EX POST FACTO.
III.
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT THE ORDINANCE IN QUESTION
COVERS ONLY OWNERS OR OVERSEER OF FISHPONDS OF PRIVATE OWNERSHIP AND
NOT TO LESSEES OF PUBLIC LANDS.
IV.
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE QUESTIONED ORDINANCE,
EVEN IF VALID, CANNOT BE ENFORCED BEYOND THE TERRITORIAL LIMITS OF
PAGBILAO AND DOES NOT COVER NONRESIDENTS. 4
The ordinances in question are Ordinance No. 4, series of 1955, Ordinance No. 15, series of
1965, and Ordinance No. 12, series of 1966, of the Municipal Council of Pagbilao. Insofar as
pertinent to this appeal, the salient portions thereof are hereinbelow quoted:
Section 1. Any owner or manager of fishponds in places within the territorial limits
of Pagbilao, Quezon, shall pay a municipal tax in the amount of P3.00 per
hectare of fishpond on part thereof per annum. 5
xxx xxx xxx
Sec. l (a). For the convenience of those who have or owners or managers of
fishponds within the territorial limits of this municipality, the date of payment of
municipal tax relative thereto, shall begin after the lapse of three (3) years
starting from the date said fishpond is approved by the Bureau of Fisheries. 6
xxx xxx xxx
Section 1. Any owner or manager of fishponds in places within the territorial limits
of Pagbilao shall pay a municipal tax in the amount of P3.00 per hectare or any

fraction thereof per annum beginning and taking effect from the year 1964, if the
fishpond started operating before the year 1964. 7
The first objection refers to the ordinances being allegedly "ambiguous and uncertain." 8 The
petitioner contends that being a mere lessee of the fishpond, he is not covered since the said
ordinances speak of "owner or manager." He likewise maintains that they are vague insofar as
they reckon the date of payment: Whereas Ordinance No. 4 provides that parties shall
commence payment "after the lapse of three (3) years starting from the date said fishpond is
approved by the Bureau of Fisheries." 9 Ordinance No. 12 states that liability for the tax accrues
"beginning and taking effect from the year 1964 if the fishpond started operating before the year
1964." 10
As a rule, a statute or act may be said to be vague when it lacks comprehensible standards that
men "of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its
application." 11 It is repugnant to the Constitution in two respects: (1) it violates due process for
failure to accord persons, especially the parties targetted by it, fair notice of the conduct to
avoid; and (2) it leaves law enforcers unbridled discretion in carrying out its provisions and
becomes an arbitrary flexing of the Government muscle.
But the act must be utterly vague on its face, that is to say, it cannot be clarified by either a
saving clause or by construction. Thus, in Coates v. City of Cincinnati, 12 the U.S. Supreme
Court struck down an ordinance that had made it illegal for "three or more persons to assemble
on any sidewalk and there conduct themselves in a manner annoying to persons passing
by." 13 Clearly, the ordinance imposed no standard at all "because one may never know in
advance what 'annoys some people but does not annoy others.' " 14
Coates highlights what has been referred to as a "perfectly vague" 15 act whose obscurity is
evident on its face. It is to be distinguished, however, from legislation couched in imprecise
language but which nonetheless specifies a standard though defectively phrased in which
case, it may be "saved" by proper construction.
It must further be distinguished from statutes that are apparently ambiguous yet fairly applicable
to certain types of activities. In that event, such statutes may not be challenged whenever
directed against such activities. InParker v. Levy, 16 a prosecution originally under the U.S.
Uniform Code of Military Justice (prohibiting, specifically, "conduct unbecoming an officer and
gentleman"), the defendant, an army officer who had urged his men not to go to Vietnam and
called the Special Forces trained to fight there thieves and murderers, was not allowed to invoke
the void for vagueness doctrine on the premise that accepted military interpretation and practice
had provided enough standards, and consequently, a fair notice that his conduct was
impermissible.
It is interesting that in Gonzales v. Commission on Elections, 17 a divided Court sustained an act
of Congress (Republic Act No. 4880 penalizing "the too early nomination of
candidates" 18 limiting the election campaign period, and prohibiting "partisan political
activities"), amid challenges of vagueness and overbreadth on the ground that the law had

included an "enumeration of the acts deemed included in the terms 'election campaign' or
'partisan political activity" 19 that would supply the standards. "As thus limited, the objection that
may be raised as to vagueness has been minimized, if not totally set at rest." 20 In his opinion,
however, Justice Sanchez would stress that the conduct sought to be prohibited "is not clearly
defined at all." 21 "As worded in R.A 4880, prohibited discussion could cover the entire spectrum
of expression relating to candidates and political parties." 22 He was unimpressed with the
"restrictions" Fernando's opinion had relied on: " 'Simple expressions of opinions and thoughts
concerning the election' and expression of 'views on current political problems or issues' leave
the reader conjecture, to guesswork, upon the extent of protection offered, be it as to the nature
of the utterance ('simple expressions of opinion and thoughts') or the subject of the utterance
('current political problems or issues')." 23
The Court likewise had occasion to apply the "balancing-of-interests" test, 24 insofar as the
statute's ban on early nomination of candidates was concerned: "The rational connection
between the prohibition of Section 50-A and its object, the indirect and modest scope of its
restriction on the rights of speech and assembly, and the embracing public interest which
Congress has found in the moderation of partisan political activity, lead us to the conclusion that
the statute may stand consistently with and does not offend the Constitution." 25 In that case,
Castro would have the balance achieved in favor of State authority at the "expense" of individual
liberties.
In the United States, which had ample impact on Castro's separate opinion, the balancing test
finds a close kin, referred to as the "less restrictive alternative " 26 doctrine, under which the
court searches for alternatives available to the Government outside of statutory limits, or for
"less drastic means" 27 open to the State, that would render the statute unnecessary. In United
States v. Robel, 28 legislation was assailed, banning members of the (American) Communist
Party from working in any defense facility. The U.S. Supreme Court, in nullifying the statute, held
that it impaired the right of association, and that in any case, a screening process was available
to the State that would have enabled it to Identify dangerous elements holding defense
positions. 29 In that event, the balance would have been struck in favor of individual liberties.
It should be noted that it is in free expression cases that the result is usually close. It is said,
however, that the choice of the courts is usually narrowed where the controversy involves say,
economic rights, 30 or as in the Levycase, military affairs, in which less precision in analysis is
required and in which the competence of the legislature is presumed.
In no way may the ordinances at bar be said to be tainted with the vice of vagueness. It is
unmistakable from their very provisions that the appellant falls within its coverage. As the actual
operator of the fishponds, he comes within the term " manager." He does not deny the fact that
he financed the construction of the fishponds, introduced fish fries into the fishponds, and had
employed laborers to maintain them. 31 While it appears that it is the National Government which
owns them, 32 the Government never shared in the profits they had generated. It is therefore
only logical that he shoulders the burden of tax under the said ordinances.

We agree with the trial court that the ordinances are in the character of revenue
measures 33 designed to assist the coffers of the municipality of Pagbilao. And obviously, it
cannot be the owner, the Government, on whom liability should attach, for one thing, upon the
ancient principle that the Government is immune from taxes and for another, since it is not the
Government that had been making money from the venture.
Suffice it to say that as the actual operator of the fishponds in question, and as the recipient of
profits brought about by the business, the appellant is clearly liable for the municipal taxes in
question. He cannot say that he did not have a fair notice of such a liability to make such
ordinances vague.
Neither are the said ordinances vague as to dates of payment. There is no merit to the claim
that "the imposition of tax has to depend upon an uncertain date yet to be determined (three
years after the 'approval of the fishpond' by the Bureau of Fisheries, and upon an uncertain
event (if the fishpond started operating before 1964), also to be determined by an uncertain
individual or individuals." 34 Ordinance No. 15, in making the tax payable "after the lapse of three
(3) years starting from the date said fishpond is approved by the Bureau of Fisheries," 35 is
unequivocal about the date of payment, and its amendment by Ordinance No. 12, reckoning
liability thereunder "beginning and taking effect from the year 1964 if the fishpond started
operating before the year 1964 ," 36 does not give rise to any ambiguity. In either case, the dates
of payment have been definitely established. The fact that the appellant has been allegedly
uncertain about the reckoning dates as far as his liability for the years 1964, 1965, and 1966
is concerned presents a mere problem in computation, but it does not make the ordinances
vague. In addition, the same would have been at most a difficult piece of legislation, which is not
unfamiliar in this jurisdiction, but hardly a vague law.
As it stands, then, liability for the tax accrues on January 1, 1964 for fishponds in operation prior
thereto (Ordinance No. 12), and for new fishponds, three years after their approval by the
Bureau of Fisheries (Ordinance No. 15). This is so since the amendatory act (Ordinance No. 12)
merely granted amnesty unto old, delinquent fishpond operators. It did not repeal its mother
ordinances (Nos. 4 and 15). With respect to new operators, Ordinance No. 15 should still
prevail.
To the Court, the ordinances in question set forth enough standards that clarify imagined
ambiguities. While such standards are not apparent from the face thereof, they are visible from
the intent of the said ordinances.
The next inquiry is whether or not they can be said to be ex post facto measures. The appellant
argues that they are: "Amendment No. 12 passed on September 19, 1966, clearly provides that
the payment of the imposed tax shall "beginning and taking effect from the year 1964, if the
fishpond started operating before the year 1964.' In other words, it penalizes acts or events
occurring before its passage, that is to say, 1964 and even prior thereto."37
The Court finds no merit in this contention. As the Solicitor General notes, "Municipal Ordinance
No. 4 was passed on May 14, 1955. 38 Hence, it cannot be said that the amendment (under

Ordinance No. 12) is being made to apply retroactively (to 1964) since the reckoning period is
1955 (date of enactment). Essentially, Ordinances Nos. 12 and 15 are in the nature of curative
measures intended to facilitate and enhance the collection of revenues the originally act,
Ordinance No. 4, had prescribed. 39 Moreover, the act (of non-payment of the tax), had been,
since 1955, made punishable, and it cannot be said that Ordinance No. 12 imposes a
retroactive penalty. As we have noted, it operates to grant amnesty to operators who had been
delinquent between 1955 and 1964. It does not mete out a penalty, much less, a retrospective
one.
The appellant assails, finally, the power of the municipal council of Pagbilao to tax "public forest
land." 40 In Golden Ribbon Lumber Co., Inc. v. City of Butuan 41 we held that local governments'
taxing power does not extend to forest products or concessions under Republic Act No. 2264,
the Local Autonomy Act then in force. (Republic Act No. 2264 likewise prohibited municipalities
from imposing percentage taxes on sales.)
First of all, the tax in question is not a tax on property, although the rate thereof is based on the
area of fishponds ("P3.00 per hectare" 42). Secondly, fishponds are not forest lands, although we
have held them to the agricultural lands.43 By definition, "forest" is "a large tract of land covered
with a natural growth of trees and underbush; a large wood." 44(Accordingly, even if the
challenged taxes were directed on the fishponds, they would not have been taxes on forest
products.)
They are, more accurately, privilege taxes on the business of fishpond maintenance. They are
not charged against sales, which would have offended the doctrine enshrined by Golden
Ribbon Lumber, 45 but rather on occupation, which is allowed under Republic Act No.
2264. 46 They are what have been classified as fixed annual taxes and this is obvious from the
ordinances themselves.
There is, then, no merit in the last objection.
WHEREFORE, the appeal is DISMISSED. Costs against the appellant.
Fernan, C.J., Narvasa, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin, Cortes, GrioAquino and Medialdea, JJ., concur.
Melencio-Herrera, and Regalado, J., took no part.
Gancayco, J., is on leave.

CASE NO: 3
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. L-25316 February 28, 1979


KAPISANAN NG MGA MANGGAGAWA SA MANILA RAILROAD COMPANY CREDIT UNION,
INC., petitioner-appellant,
vs.
MANILA RAILROAD COMPANY, respondent appellee.
Gregorio E. Fajardo for appellant.
Gregorio Baroque for appellee.

FERNANDO, J.:
In this mandamus petition dismissed by the lower court, petitioner-appellant would seek a
reversal of such decision relying on what it considered to be a right granted by Section 62 of the
Republic Act No. 2023, more specifically the first two paragraphs thereof: "... (1) A member of a
cooperative may, notwithstanding the provisions of existing laws, execute an agreement in favor
of the co-operative authorizing his employer to deduct from the salary or wages payable to him
by the employer such amount as may be specified in the agreement and to pay the amount so
deducted to the co-operative in satisfaction of any debt or other demand owing from the
member to the co-operative. (2) Upon the exemption of such agreement the employer shall if so
required by the co-operative by a request in writing and so long as such debt or other demand
or any part of it remains unpaid, make the claimant and remit forth with the amount so deducted
to the co-operative." 1
To show that such is futile, the appealed decision, as quoted in the brief for petitioner-appellant,
stated the following: "Then petitioner contends that under the above provisions of Rep. Act
2023, the loans granted by credit union to its members enjoy first priority in the payroll collection
from the respondent's employees' wages and salaries. As can be clearly seen, there is nothing

in the provision of Rep. Act 2023 hereinabove quoted which provides that obligation of laborers
and employees payable to credit unions shall enjoy first priority in the deduction from the
employees' wages and salaries. The only effect of Rep. Act 2023 is to compel the employer to
deduct from the salaries or wages payable to members of the employees' cooperative credit
unions the employees' debts to the union and to pay the same to the credit union. In other
words, if Rep. Act 2023 had been enacted, the employer could not be compelled to act as the
collecting agent of the employees' credit union for the employees' debt to his credit union but to
contend that the debt of a member of the employees cooperative credit union as having first
priority in the matter of deduction, is to write something into the law which does not appear.In
other words, the mandatory character of Rep. Act 2023 is only to compel the employer to make
the deduction of the employees' debt from the latter's salary and turn this over to the employees'
credit union but this mandatory character does not convert the credit union's credit into a first
priority credit. If the legislative intent in enacting pars. 1 and 2 of Sec. 62 of Rep. Act 2023 were
to give first priority in the matter of payments to the obligations of employees in favor of their
credit unions, then, the law would have so expressly declared. Thus, the express provisions of
the New Civil Code, Arts. 2241, 2242 and 2244 show the legislative intent on preference of
credits. 2
Such an interpretation, as could be expected, found favor with the respondent-appellee, which,
in its brief, succinctly pointed out "that there is nothing in said provision from which it could be
implied that it gives top priority to obligations of the nature of that payable to petitioner, and that,
therefore, respondent company, in issuing the documents known as Exhibit "3" and Exhibit "P",
which establish the order of priority of payment out of the salaries of the employees of
respondent-appellee, did not violate the above-quoted Section 62 of Republic Act 2023. In
promulgating Exhibit "3", [and] Exhibit "P" respondent, in effect, implemented the said provision
of law. 3
This petition being one for mandamus and the provision of law relied upon being clear on its
face, it would appear that no favorable action can be taken on this appeal. We affirm.
1. The applicable provision of Republic Act No. 2023 quoted earlier, speaks for itself. There is no
ambiguity. As thus worded, it was so applied. Petitioner-appellant cannot therefore raise any
valid objection. For the lower court to view it otherwise would have been to alter the law. That
cannot be done by the judiciary. That is a function that properly appertains to the legislative
branch. As was pointed out in Gonzaga v. Court of Appeals: 4 "It has been repeated time and
time again that where the statutory norm speaks unequivocally, there is nothing for the courts to
do except to apply it. The law, leaving no doubt as to the scope of its operation, must be
obeyed. Our decisions have consistently born to that effect. 5.
2. Clearly, then, mandamus does not lie. Petitioner-appellant was unable to show a clear legal
right. The very law on which he would base his action fails to supply any basis for this petition. A
more rigorous analysis would have prevented him from instituting a a suit of this character.
In J.R.S. Business Corporation v. Montesa, 6 this Court held. "Man-damus is the proper remedy
if it could be shown that there was neglect on the part of a tribunal in the performance of an act,

which specifically the law enjoins as a duty or an unlawful exclusion of a party from the use and
enjoyment of a right to which he is entitled. 7 The opinion continued in this wise:"According to
former Chief Justice Moran," only specific legal rights may be enforced by mandamus if they are
clear and certain. If the legal rights are of the petitioner are not well defined, clear, and certain,
the petition must be dismissed. In support of the above view, Viuda e Hijos de Crispulo Zamora
v. Wright was cited. As was there categorically stated: "This court has held that it is fundamental
that the duties to be enforced by mandamus must be those which are clear and enjoined by law
or by reason of official station, and that petitioner must have a clear, legal right to the thing and
that it must be the legal duty of the defendant to perform the required act.' As expressed by the
then Justice Recto in a subsequent opinion: "It is well establish that only specific legal rights are
enforceable by mandamus, that the right sought to be enforced must be certain and clear, and
that the writ not issue in cases where the right is doubtful." To the same effect is the formulation
of such doctrine by former Justice Barrera: "Stated otherwise, the writ never issues in doubtful
cases. It neither confers powers nor imposes duties. It is simply a command to exercise a power
already possessed and to perform a duty already imposed." 8 So it has been since then. 9The
latest reported case, Province. of Pangasinan v. Reparations Commission, 10 this court speaking
through Justice Concepcion Jr., reiterated such a well-settled doctrine: "It has also been held
that it is essential to the issuance of the writ of mandamus that the plaintiff should have a clear
legal right to the thing demanded, and it must be the imperative duty of the defendant to perform
the act required. It never issues in doubtful cases. 11
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is affirmed. No pronouncement as to costs.
Barredo, Antonio, Concepcion, Jr., Santos and Abad Santos, JJ., concur.
Aquino, J., took no part.

CASE NO: 4
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 72873 May 28, 1987
CARLOS ALONZO and CASIMIRA ALONZO, petitioners,
vs.
INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and TECLA PADUA, respondents.
Perpetuo L.B. Alonzo for petitioners.
Luis R. Reyes for private respondent.

CRUZ, J.:
The question is sometimes asked, in serious inquiry or in curious conjecture, whether we are a
court of law or a court of justice. Do we apply the law even if it is unjust or do we administer
justice even against the law? Thus queried, we do not equivocate. The answer is that we do
neither because we are a court both of law and of justice. We apply the law with justice for that
is our mission and purpose in the scheme of our Republic. This case is an illustration.
Five brothers and sisters inherited in equal pro indiviso shares a parcel of land registered in 'the
name of their deceased parents under OCT No. 10977 of the Registry of Deeds of Tarlac. 1
On March 15, 1963, one of them, Celestino Padua, transferred his undivided share of the herein
petitioners for the sum of P550.00 by way of absolute sale. 2 One year later, on April 22, 1964,
Eustaquia Padua, his sister, sold her own share to the same vendees, in an instrument
denominated "Con Pacto de Retro Sale," for the sum of P 440.00. 3
By virtue of such agreements, the petitioners occupied, after the said sales, an area
corresponding to two-fifths of the said lot, representing the portions sold to them. The vendees
subsequently enclosed the same with a fence. In 1975, with their consent, their son Eduardo
Alonzo and his wife built a semi-concrete house on a part of the enclosed area. 4
On February 25, 1976, Mariano Padua, one of the five coheirs, sought to redeem the area sold
to the spouses Alonzo, but his complaint was dismissed when it appeared that he was an
American citizen . 5 On May 27, 1977, however, Tecla Padua, another co-heir, filed her own
complaint invoking the same right of redemption claimed by her brother. 6
The trial court * also dismiss this complaint, now on the ground that the right had lapsed, not
having been exercised within thirty days from notice of the sales in 1963 and 1964. Although
there was no written notice, it was held that actual knowledge of the sales by the co-heirs
satisfied the requirement of the law. 7
In truth, such actual notice as acquired by the co-heirs cannot be plausibly denied. The other
co-heirs, including Tecla Padua, lived on the same lot, which consisted of only 604 square
meters, including the portions sold to the petitioners . 8 Eustaquia herself, who had sold her
portion, was staying in the same house with her sister Tecla, who later claimed redemption
petition. 9 Moreover, the petitioners and the private respondents were close friends and
neighbors whose children went to school together. 10
It is highly improbable that the other co-heirs were unaware of the sales and that they thought,
as they alleged, that the area occupied by the petitioners had merely been mortgaged by
Celestino and Eustaquia. In the circumstances just narrated, it was impossible for Tecla not to
know that the area occupied by the petitioners had been purchased by them from the other. coheirs. Especially significant was the erection thereon of the permanent semi-concrete structure
by the petitioners' son, which was done without objection on her part or of any of the other coheirs.

The only real question in this case, therefore, is the correct interpretation and application of the
pertinent law as invoked, interestingly enough, by both the petitioners and the private
respondents. This is Article 1088 of the Civil Code, providing as follows:
Art. 1088. Should any of the heirs sell his hereditary rights to a stranger before
the partition, any or all of the co-heirs may be subrogated to the rights of the
purchaser by reimbursing him for the price of the sale, provided they do so within
the period of one month from the time they were notified in writing of the sale by
the vendor.
In reversing the trial court, the respondent court ** declared that the notice required by the said
article was written notice and that actual notice would not suffice as a substitute. Citing the
same case of De Conejero v. Court of Appeals 11 applied by the trial court, the respondent
court held that that decision, interpreting a like rule in Article 1623, stressed the need for written
notice although no particular form was required.
Thus, according to Justice J.B.L. Reyes, who was the ponente of the Court, furnishing the coheirs with a copy of the deed of sale of the property subject to redemption would satisfy the
requirement for written notice. "So long, therefore, as the latter (i.e., the redemptioner) is
informed in writing of the sale and the particulars thereof," he declared, "the thirty days for
redemption start running. "
In the earlier decision of Butte v. UY, 12 " the Court, speaking through the same learned jurist,
emphasized that the written notice should be given by the vendor and not the vendees,
conformably to a similar requirement under Article 1623, reading as follows:
Art. 1623. The right of legal pre-emption or redemption shall not be exercised
except within thirty days from the notice in writing by the prospective vendor, or
by the vendors, as the case may be. The deed of sale shall not be recorded in
the Registry of Property, unless accompanied by an affidavit of the vendor that he
has given written notice thereof to all possible redemptioners.
The right of redemption of co-owners excludes that of the adjoining owners.
As "it is thus apparent that the Philippine legislature in Article 1623 deliberately selected a
particular method of giving notice, and that notice must be deemed exclusive," the Court held
that notice given by the vendees and not the vendor would not toll the running of the 30-day
period.
The petition before us appears to be an illustration of the Holmes dictum that "hard cases make
bad laws" as the petitioners obviously cannot argue against the fact that there was really no
written notice given by the vendors to their co-heirs. Strictly applied and interpreted, Article 1088
can lead to only one conclusion, to wit, that in view of such deficiency, the 30 day period for
redemption had not begun to run, much less expired in 1977.

But as has also been aptly observed, we test a law by its results; and likewise, we may add, by
its purposes. It is a cardinal rule that, in seeking the meaning of the law, the first concern of the
judge should be to discover in its provisions the in tent of the lawmaker. Unquestionably, the law
should never be interpreted in such a way as to cause injustice as this is never within the
legislative intent. An indispensable part of that intent, in fact, for we presume the good motives
of the legislature, is to render justice.
Thus, we interpret and apply the law not independently of but in consonance with justice. Law
and justice are inseparable, and we must keep them so. To be sure, there are some laws that,
while generally valid, may seem arbitrary when applied in a particular case because of its
peculiar circumstances. In such a situation, we are not bound, because only of our nature and
functions, to apply them just the same, in slavish obedience to their language. What we do
instead is find a balance between the word and the will, that justice may be done even as the
law is obeyed.
As judges, we are not automatons. We do not and must not unfeelingly apply the law as it is
worded, yielding like robots to the literal command without regard to its cause and
consequence. "Courts are apt to err by sticking too closely to the words of a law," so we are
warned, by Justice Holmes again, "where these words import a policy that goes beyond
them." 13 While we admittedly may not legislate, we nevertheless have the power to interpret
the law in such a way as to reflect the will of the legislature. While we may not read into the law
a purpose that is not there, we nevertheless have the right to read out of it the reason for its
enactment. In doing so, we defer not to "the letter that killeth" but to "the spirit that vivifieth," to
give effect to the law maker's will.
The spirit, rather than the letter of a statute determines its construction, hence, a
statute must be read according to its spirit or intent. For what is within the spirit is
within the letter but although it is not within the letter thereof, and that which is
within the letter but not within the spirit is not within the statute. Stated differently,
a thing which is within the intent of the lawmaker is as much within the statute as
if within the letter; and a thing which is within the letter of the statute is not within
the statute unless within the intent of the lawmakers. 14
In requiring written notice, Article 1088 seeks to ensure that the redemptioner is
properly notified of the sale and to indicate the date of such notice as the starting
time of the 30-day period of redemption. Considering the shortness of the period,
it is really necessary, as a general rule, to pinpoint the precise date it is supposed
to begin, to obviate any problem of alleged delays, sometimes consisting of only
a day or two.
The instant case presents no such problem because the right of redemption was invoked
not days but years after the sales were made in 1963 and 1964. The complaint was filed by
Tecla Padua in 1977, thirteen years after the first sale and fourteen years after the second sale.

The delay invoked by the petitioners extends to more than a decade, assuming of course that
there was a valid notice that tolled the running of the period of redemption.
Was there a valid notice? Granting that the law requires the notice to be written, would such
notice be necessary in this case? Assuming there was a valid notice although it was not in
writing. would there be any question that the 30-day period for redemption had expired long
before the complaint was filed in 1977?
In the face of the established facts, we cannot accept the private respondents' pretense that
they were unaware of the sales made by their brother and sister in 1963 and 1964. By requiring
written proof of such notice, we would be closing our eyes to the obvious truth in favor of their
palpably false claim of ignorance, thus exalting the letter of the law over its purpose. The
purpose is clear enough: to make sure that the redemptioners are duly notified. We are satisfied
that in this case the other brothers and sisters were actually informed, although not in writing, of
the sales made in 1963 and 1964, and that such notice was sufficient.
Now, when did the 30-day period of redemption begin?
While we do not here declare that this period started from the dates of such sales in 1963 and
1964, we do say that sometime between those years and 1976, when the first complaint for
redemption was filed, the other co-heirs were actually informed of the sale and that thereafter
the 30-day period started running and ultimately expired. This could have happened any time
during the interval of thirteen years, when none of the co-heirs made a move to redeem the
properties sold. By 1977, in other words, when Tecla Padua filed her complaint, the right of
redemption had already been extinguished because the period for its exercise had already
expired.
The following doctrine is also worth noting:
While the general rule is, that to charge a party with laches in the assertion of an
alleged right it is essential that he should have knowledge of the facts upon
which he bases his claim, yet if the circumstances were such as should have
induced inquiry, and the means of ascertaining the truth were readily available
upon inquiry, but the party neglects to make it, he will be chargeable with laches,
the same as if he had known the facts. 15
It was the perfectly natural thing for the co-heirs to wonder why the spouses Alonzo, who were
not among them, should enclose a portion of the inherited lot and build thereon a house of
strong materials. This definitely was not the act of a temporary possessor or a mere mortgagee.
This certainly looked like an act of ownership. Yet, given this unseemly situation, none of the coheirs saw fit to object or at least inquire, to ascertain the facts, which were readily available. It
took all of thirteen years before one of them chose to claim the right of redemption, but then it
was already too late.

We realize that in arriving at our conclusion today, we are deviating from the strict letter of the
law, which the respondent court understandably applied pursuant to existing jurisprudence. The
said court acted properly as it had no competence to reverse the doctrines laid down by this
Court in the above-cited cases. In fact, and this should be clearly stressed, we ourselves are not
abandoning the De Conejero and Buttle doctrines. What we are doing simply is adopting an
exception to the general rule, in view of the peculiar circumstances of this case.
The co-heirs in this case were undeniably informed of the sales although no notice in writing
was given them. And there is no doubt either that the 30-day period began and ended during the
14 years between the sales in question and the filing of the complaint for redemption in 1977,
without the co-heirs exercising their right of redemption. These are the justifications for this
exception.
More than twenty centuries ago, Justinian defined justice "as the constant and perpetual wish to
render every one his due." 16 That wish continues to motivate this Court when it assesses the
facts and the law in every case brought to it for decision. Justice is always an essential
ingredient of its decisions. Thus when the facts warrants, we interpret the law in a way that will
render justice, presuming that it was the intention of the lawmaker, to begin with, that the law be
dispensed with justice. So we have done in this case.
WHEREFORE, the petition is granted. The decision of the respondent court is REVERSED and
that of the trial court is reinstated, without any pronouncement as to costs. It is so ordered.
Teehankee, C.J., Yap, Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera Gutierrez, Jr., Paras, Gancayco, Padilla,
Bidin, Sarmiento and Cortes, JJ., concur.
Fernan and Feliciano, JJ., are on leave.

CASE NO: 5

G.R. No. L-2783, Lerum and Fernando v. Cruz, Muoz and Roa, 87 Phil. 652
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
November 29, 1950
G.R. No. L-2783
EULOGIO R. LERUM and VIOLA FERNANDO, petitioners-appellants;
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, necessary party,
vs.
ROMAN A. CRUZ, ELENA MUOZ and NELLO Y. ROA, respondents-appellees.
Antonio Barredo, Eulogio R. Lerum and G. Viola Fernando for appellants.
BAUTISTA ANGELO, J.:
This is an appeal from an order of the Court of First Instance of Rizal (Quezon City) dismissing
the petition for declaratory relief filed by Attorneys Eulogio R. Lerum and G. Viola Fernando as
private prosecutors in behalf of the People of the Philippines for the purpose of testing the
sufficiency and probative value of the testimony of former Judge Roman A. Cruz to prove a
decree of divorce issued by him while a Judge of First Instance of Manila sometime in 1944.
It appears that a case for bigamy was filed against Nello Y. Roa in the Court of First Instance of
Rizal (Case No. 962). In the course of the trial held in June 16 and 30, 1948, former Judge
Roman A. Cruz was placed on the witness stand by the defendant to prove that his wife Elena
Muoz has already secured a decree of divorce against him in July 1944. The prosecution
objected to this move of the defendant, but the objection was overruled, and so the prosecution
filed a petition for a writ of prohibition with this court praying that the respondent judge be
enjoined from allowing the defendant to prove the alleged decree of divorce by oral evidence
(G.R. No. L-2340). The petition was dismissed for lack of merit. Judge Roman Cruz then was
allowed to testify, and his testimony reads as follows:
Sr. Guanlao:
P. Conoce Ud. personalmente a Elena Muoz? R. Si, seor.
P. Conoce Ud. personalmente a Nello Roa?
xxx xxx xxx
P. Porque dice Ud. que conoce a Elena Muoz? R. La conozo porque fue
demandante en una causa de divorcio que se habia ventilado en una de las salas que
yo presidia entonces en el Juzgado de Primera Instancia de Manila durante mi
incumbencia en 1944.
Sr. Viiola Fernando:

Pido Su Seoria el descarte de esta parte del testimonio del testigo por ser
incompetente y, ademas, es una conclusion.
Juzgado:
El testigo esta declarando sobre hechos de su conocimiento propio.
Sr. Viola Fernando:
Es una conclusion.
Juzgado:
El testimonio del Juez Cruz no puede considerarse como una prueba secundaria, sino
mas bien que vendria a ser como una prueba primaria o principal, cuyo expediente
surgio a rais de sus actuaciones oficiales como Juez. (Steno. Notes, Transcript, pp. 4-7.)
xxx xxx xxx
Sr. Guanlao:
P. De su propio conocimiento y segun su mejor recuerdo, se tramito ante Ud.la causa de
referencia?
xxx xxx xxx
Juzgado:
Se le pregunta si recuerda.
Juzgado:
Eso incumbe al Juzgado. Puede contestar.
R. Si, seor. (Steno. Transcript Notes, p. 6.)
xxx xxx xxx
Juzgado:
Puede contestar.
Testigo:
Si seor se ha tramitado ese asunto de divorcio durante mi incumbencia en 1944,
cuando presidia entonces una de las salas de Juzgado de primera Instancia de Manila.
P. Y cual fue el resultado de ese asunto de divorcio si Ud. recuerda? R. Se concedio
el divorcio solicitado por la entonces demandante.
P. Sabe Ud. si el demandado apelo de esa decision R. No podia haber apelado
porque era un divorcio concedido mediante rebeldia.
P. Pero Ud. no esta seguro si el demandado apelo o no? R. Que yo sepa, ni siquiera
peticion de reconsideracion se presento, ni que se hay dado curso a alguna apelacion.
(Steno. Notes, Transcript, pp. 13-14, hereto attached as Exhibit A.) (Copied from G. R.
No. L-2783, pp. 23-25, record on appeal.)
The prosecution moved for the striking out of the above testimony of Judge Cruz, and when the
motion was denied, the prosecution again brought the case to this Court through certiorari (G.
R. No. L-2483), and again the petition was denied on the ground that the respondent judge had
power and authority to rule on the question raised therein. After the steps taken by the
prosecution to foil the attempt to prove the alleged decree of divorce by oral evidence proved
futile, the private prosecution filed the present petition for declaratory relief.
It also appears that the petition was at first filed by City Attorney Jose F. Fernandez, and by
Attorneys Eulogio R. Lerum and G. Viola Fernando as private prosecutors in the bigamy case

No. 962, but later, upon motion filed by City Attorney Fernandez, his name was stricken out from
the pleadings, and so an amended petition was filed wherein Attorneys Lerum and Viola
Fernando appeared as the only petitioners representing the People of the Philippines. It finally
appears that Attorneys Lerum and Viola Fernando made an attempt to have the Solicitor
General appear as counsel, but this attempt was again ruled out on the ground that under the
law the Solicitor General can only be required to intervene when the validity of a statute is
involved.
While the petitioners have assigned in their brief seven errors which are alleged to have been
committed by the lower court, we believe that the issues raised can be boiled down into two, to
wit: (1) whether petitioners have the necessary personality and interest to file the petition under
consideration; and (2) whether the subject matter of the petition is among those that can be
determined by way of declaratory relief under Rule 66 of the Rules of Court.
1. The incident giving rise to the petition for declaratory relief arose in a criminal case for bigamy
instituted against one Nello Y. Roa. The information was filed by City Attorney Jose F.
Fernandez as required by the Rules of Court, and Attorneys Eulogio R. Lerum and G. Viola
Fernando appeared as private prosecutors in behalf of the offended party. The incident
concerns the presentation of the oral testimony of former Judge Roman A. Cruz to prove a
decree of divorce issued by him as judge of First Instance of Manila in an effort to bring about
the acquittal of the defendant. The interested party, therefore, in testing the sufficiency or
probative value of the aforesaid testimony is the People of the Philippines. In fact it is the City
Attorney who filed the two certioraricases with this court in a vain attempt to get a ruling on the
matter. This being the case, the city attorney should be the one to ask for the declaratory relief if
it is desired to have said matter tested in court and if and when this step is feasible under the
law. It appears, however, that City Attorney Jose F. Fernandez has refused to join the petitioners
in filling the herein petition for declaratory relief as shown by his attitude in asking that his name
be stricken out from the pleadings. This attitude is indicative that the government has no interest
in prosecuting the petition, and inasmuch as all criminal actions can only be prosecuted under
the direction and control of the fiscal and for that matter he is the only official who can represent
the People of the Philippines (sec. 4, Rule 106, of the Rules of Court; Herrero vs. Diaz, 42 Off.
Gaz., 1166;75 Phil., 489), it is evident that the petitioners herein, who as private prosecutors can

only intervene subject to the control of the City Attorney (Herrero vs. Diaz, id.), are not the
proper parties to file the petition under consideration.
2. Granting for the sake of argument that the petitioners herein can be considered as parties in
interest within the meaning of the statute, the next question to determine is whether the subject
matter which they want to be tested is among those mentioned in section 1, rule 66, of the
Rules of Court.
Under this rule, only a person who is interested "under a deed, will, contract or other written
instrument, and whose rights are affected by a statute or ordinance, may bring an action to
determine any question of construction or validity arising under the instrument or statute and for
a declaration of his rights or duties thereunder." This means that the subject matter must refer to
a deed, will, contract or other written instrument, or to a statute or ordinance, to warrant
declaratory relief. Any other matter not mentioned therein is deemed excluded. This is under the
principle ofexpressio unius est exclussio alterius.
Now, does the subject matter under consideration come within the import of the rule? The
answer cannot but be in the negative, for it does not refer to any written instrument, statute or
ordinance. It merely refers to the sufficiency or probative value of an oral evidence concerning a
decree of divorce issued by a former judge, which the court trying the bigamy case has ample
power and authority to pass upon. This is not the opportune moment to look into the correctness
of the ruling of the court in said bigamy case allowing the presentation of oral evidence to prove
a decree of divorce under the circumstances at present obtaining, for the bigamy case is still
pending determination. This will be determined in due time when properly presented before this
Court. For the purposes of this appeal, it suffices for this Court to declare that the subject matter
of the petition does not warrant the granting of declaratory relief within the meaning of said Rule
66.
Wherefore, the order appealed from is affirmed, without pronouncement as to costs.
Moran, Bengzon, C. J., Paras, Feria, Pablo, Padilla, Tuason, Montemayor, Reyes, and Jugo,
JJ., concur.

Case no: 6

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 14129

July 31, 1962

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellant,


vs.
GUILLERMO MANANTAN, defendant-appellee.
Office of the Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellant.
Padilla Law Office for defendant-appellee.
REGALA, J.:
This is an appeal of the Solicitor General from the order of the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan
dismissing the information against the defendant.
The records show that the statement of the case and the facts, as recited in the brief of plaintiff-appellant,
is complete and accurate. The same is, consequently, here adopted, to wit:
In an information filed by the Provincial Fiscal of Pangasinan in the Court of First Instance of that
Province, defendant Guillermo Manantan was charged with a violation Section 54 of the Revised
Election Code. A preliminary investigation conducted by said court resulted in the finding a
probable cause that the crime charged as committed by defendant. Thereafter, the trial started
upon defendant's plea of not guilty, the defense moved to dismiss the information on the ground
that as justice of the peace the defendant is one of the officers enumerated in Section 54 of the
Revised Election Code. The lower court denied the motion to dismiss holding that a justice of the
peace is within the purview Section 54. A second motion was filed by defense counsel who cited
in support thereof the decision of the Court of Appeals in People vs. Macaraeg, (CA-G.R. No.
15613-R, 54 Off. Gaz., pp. 1873-76) where it was held that a justice of the peace is excluded
from the prohibition of Section 54 of the Revised Election Code. Acting on this second motion to
dismiss, the answer of the prosecution, the reply of the defense, and the opposition of the
prosecution, the lower court dismissed the information against the accused upon the authority of
the ruling in the case cited by the defense.
Both parties are submitting this case upon the determination of this single question of law: Is a justice the
peace included in the prohibition of Section 54 of the Revised Election Code?
Section 54 of the said Code reads:
No justice, judge, fiscal, treasurer, or assessor of any province, no officer or employee of the
Army, no member of the national, provincial, city, municipal or rural police force and no classified
civil service officer or employee shall aid any candidate, or exert any influence in any manner in a

election or take part therein, except to vote, if entitled thereto, or to preserve public peace, if he is
a peace officer.
Defendant-appellee argues that a justice of the peace is not comprehended among the officers
enumerated in Section 54 of the Revised Election Code. He submits the aforecited section was taken
from Section 449 of the Revised Administrative Code, which provided the following:
SEC. 449. Persons prohibited from influencing elections. No judge of the First Instance, justice
of the peace, or treasurer, fiscal or assessor of any province and no officer or employee of the
Philippine Constabulary, or any Bureau or employee of the classified civil service, shall aid any
candidate or exert influence in any manner in any election or take part therein otherwise than
exercising the right to vote.
When, therefore, section 54 of the Revised Election Code omitted the words "justice of the peace," the
omission revealed the intention of the Legislature to exclude justices of the peace from its operation.
The above argument overlooks one fundamental fact. It is to be noted that under Section 449 of the
Revised Administrative Code, the word "judge" was modified or qualified by the phrase "of First instance",
while under Section 54 of the Revised Election Code, no such modification exists. In other words, justices
of the peace were expressly included in Section 449 of the Revised Administrative Code because the
kinds of judges therein were specified, i.e., judge of the First Instance and justice of the peace. In Section
54, however, there was no necessity therefore to include justices of the peace in the enumeration
because the legislature had availed itself of the more generic and broader term, "judge." It was a term not
modified by any word or phrase and was intended to comprehend all kinds of judges, like judges of the
courts of First Instance, Judges of the courts of Agrarian Relations, judges of the courts of Industrial
Relations, and justices of the peace.
It is a well known fact that a justice of the peace is sometimes addressed as "judge" in this jurisdiction. It
is because a justice of the peace is indeed a judge. A "judge" is a public officer, who, by virtue of his
office, is clothed with judicial authority (U.S. v. Clark, 25 Fed. Cas. 441, 422). According to Bouvier Law
Dictionary, "a judge is a public officer lawfully appointed to decide litigated questions according to law. In
its most extensive sense the term includes all officers appointed to decide litigated questions while acting
in that capacity, including justices of the peace, and even jurors, it is said, who are judges of facts."
A review of the history of the Revised Election Code will help to justify and clarify the above conclusion.
The first election law in the Philippines was Act 1582 enacted by the Philippine Commission in 1907, and
which was later amended by Act. Nos. 1669, 1709, 1726 and 1768. (Of these 4 amendments, however,
only Act No. 1709 has a relation to the discussion of the instant case as shall be shown later.) Act No.
1582, with its subsequent 4 amendments were later on incorporated Chapter 18 of the Administrative
Code. Under the Philippine Legislature, several amendments were made through the passage of Acts
Nos. 2310, 3336 and 3387. (Again, of these last 3 amendments, only Act No. 3587 has pertinent to the
case at bar as shall be seen later.) During the time of the Commonwealth, the National Assembly passed
Commonwealth Act No. 23 and later on enacted Commonwealth Act No. 357, which was the law enforced
until June 1947, when the Revised Election Code was approved. Included as its basic provisions are the
provisions of Commonwealth Acts Nos. 233, 357, 605, 666, 657. The present Code was further amended
by Republic Acts Nos. 599, 867, 2242 and again, during the session of Congress in 1960, amended by
Rep. Acts Nos. 3036 and 3038. In the history of our election law, the following should be noted:

Under Act 1582, Section 29, it was provided:


No public officer shall offer himself as a candidate for elections, nor shall he be eligible during the
time that he holds said public office to election at any municipal, provincial or Assembly election,
except for reelection to the position which he may be holding, and no judge of the First
Instance, justice of the peace, provincial fiscal, or officer or employee of the Philippine
Constabulary or of the Bureau of Education shall aid any candidate or influence in any manner or
take part in any municipal, provincial, or Assembly election under the penalty of being deprived of
his office and being disqualified to hold any public office whatsoever for a term of 5 year: Provide,
however, That the foregoing provisions shall not be construe to deprive any person otherwise
qualified of the right to vote it any election." (Enacted January 9, 1907; Took effect on January 15,
1907.)
Then, in Act 1709, Sec. 6, it was likewise provided:
. . . No judge of the First Instance, Justice of the peace provincial fiscal or officer or employee of
the Bureau of Constabulary or of the Bureau of Education shall aid any candidate or influence in
any manner to take part in any municipal provincial or Assembly election. Any person violating the
provisions of this section shall be deprived of his office or employment and shall be disqualified to
hold any public office or employment whatever for a term of 5 years, Provided, however, that the
foregoing provisions shall not be construed to deprive any person otherwise qualified of the right
to vote at any election. (Enacted on August 31, 1907; Took effect on September 15, 1907.)
Again, when the existing election laws were incorporated in the Administrative Code on March 10, 1917,
the provisions in question read:
SEC. 449. Persons prohibited from influencing elections. No judge of the First Instance, justice
of the peace, or treasurer, fiscal or assessor of any province and no officer or employee of the
Philippine Constabulary or any Bureau or employee of the classified civil service, shall aid any
candidate or exert influence in any manner in any election or take part therein otherwise than
exercising the right to vote. (Emphasis supplied)
After the Administrative Code, the next pertinent legislation was Act No. 3387. This Act reads:
SEC. 2636. Officers and employees meddling with the election. Any judge of the First
Instance, justice of the peace, treasurer, fiscal or assessor of any province, any officer or
employee of the Philippine Constabulary or of the police of any municipality, or any officer or
employee of any Bureau of the classified civil service, who aids any candidate or violated in any
manner the provisions of this section or takes part in any election otherwise by exercising the
right to vote, shall be punished by a fine of not less than P100.00 nor more than P2,000.00, or by
imprisonment for not less than 2 months nor more than 2 years, and in all cases by
disqualification from public office and deprivation of the right of suffrage for a period of 5 years.
(Approved December 3, 1927.) (Emphasis supplied.)
Subsequently, however, Commonwealth Act No. 357 was enacted on August 22, 1938. This law provided
in Section 48:

SEC. 48. Active Interventation of Public Officers and Employees. No justice, judge, fiscal,
treasurer or assessor of any province, no officer or employee of the Army, the Constabulary of the
national, provincial, municipal or rural police, and no classified civil service officer or employee
shall aid any candidate, nor exert influence in any manner in any election nor take part therein,
except to vote, if entitled thereto, or to preserve public peace, if he is a peace officer.
This last law was the legislation from which Section 54 of the Revised Election Code was taken.
It will thus be observed from the foregoing narration of the legislative development or history of Section 54
of the Revised Election Code that the first omission of the word "justice of the peace" was effected in
Section 48 of Commonwealth Act No. 357 and not in the present code as averred by defendant-appellee.
Note carefully, however, that in the two instances when the words "justice of the peace" were omitted (in
Com. Act No. 357 and Rep. Act No. 180), the word "judge" which preceded in the enumeration did not
carry the qualification "of the First Instance." In other words, whenever the word "judge" was qualified by
the phrase "of the First Instance", the words "justice of the peace" would follow; however, if the law simply
said "judge," the words "justice of the peace" were omitted.
The above-mentioned pattern of congressional phraseology would seem to justify the conclusion that
when the legislature omitted the words "justice of the peace" in Rep. Act No. 180, it did not intend to
exempt the said officer from its operation. Rather, it had considered the said officer as already
comprehended in the broader term "judge".
It is unfortunate and regrettable that the last World War had destroyed congressional records which might
have offered some explanation of the discussion of Com. Act No. 357 which legislation, as indicated
above, has eliminated for the first time the words "justice of the peace." Having been completely
destroyed, all efforts to seek deeper and additional clarifications from these records proved futile.
Nevertheless, the conclusions drawn from the historical background of Rep. Act No. 180 is sufficiently
borne out by reason hid equity.
Defendant further argues that he cannot possibly be among the officers enumerated in Section 54
inasmuch as under that said section, the word "judge" is modified or qualified by the phrase "of any
province." The last mentioned phrase, defendant submits, cannot then refer to a justice of the peace since
the latter is not an officer of a province but of a municipality.
Defendant's argument in that respect is too strained. If it is true that the phrase "of any province"
necessarily removes justices of the peace from the enumeration for the reason that they are municipal
and not provincial officials, then the same thing may be said of the Justices of the Supreme Court and of
the Court of Appeals. They are national officials. Yet, can there be any doubt that Justices of the Supreme
Court and of the Court of Appeals are not included in the prohibition? The more sensible and logical
interpretation of the said phrase is that it qualifies fiscals, treasurers and assessors who are generally
known as provincial officers.
The rule of "casus omisus pro omisso habendus est" is likewise invoked by the defendant-appellee.
Under the said rule, a person, object or thing omitted from an enumeration must be held to have been
omitted intentionally. If that rule is applicable to the present, then indeed, justices of the peace must be
held to have been intentionally and deliberately exempted from the operation of Section 54 of the Revised
Election Code.

The rule has no applicability to the case at bar. The maxim "casus omisus" can operate and apply only if
and when the omission has been clearly established. In the case under consideration, it has already been
shown that the legislature did not exclude or omit justices of the peace from the enumeration of officers
precluded from engaging in partisan political activities. Rather, they were merely called by another term.
In the new law, or Section 54 of the Revised Election Code, justices of the peace were just called
"judges."
In insisting on the application of the rule of "casus omisus" to this case, defendant-appellee cites
authorities to the effect that the said rule, being restrictive in nature, has more particular application to
statutes that should be strictly construed. It is pointed out that Section 54 must be strictly construed
against the government since proceedings under it are criminal in nature and the jurisprudence is settled
that penal statutes should be strictly interpreted against the state.
Amplifying on the above argument regarding strict interpretation of penal statutes, defendant asserts that
the spirit of fair play and due process demand such strict construction in order to give "fair warning of
what the law intends to do, if a certain line is passed, in language that the common world will understand."
(Justice Holmes, in McBoyle v. U.S., 283 U.S. 25, L. Ed. 816).
The application of the rule of "casus omisus" does not proceed from the mere fact that a case is criminal
in nature, but rather from a reasonable certainty that a particular person, object or thing has been omitted
from a legislative enumeration. In the present case, and for reasons already mentioned, there has been
no such omission. There has only been a substitution of terms.
The rule that penal statutes are given a strict construction is not the only factor controlling the
interpretation of such laws; instead, the rule merely serves as an additional, single factor to be considered
as an aid in determining the meaning of penal laws. This has been recognized time and again by
decisions of various courts. (3 Sutherland, Statutory Construction, p. 56.) Thus, cases will frequently be
found enunciating the principle that the intent of the legislature will govern (U.S. vs. Corbet, 215 U.S.
233). It is to be noted that a strict construction should not be permitted to defeat the policy and purposes
of the statute (Ash Sheep Co. v. U.S., 252 U.S. 159). The court may consider the spirit and reason of a
statute, as in this particular instance, where a literal meaning would lead to absurdity, contradiction,
injustice, or would defeat the clear purpose of the law makers (Crawford, Interpretation of Laws, Sec. 78,
p. 294). A Federal District court in the U.S. has well said:
The strict construction of a criminal statute does not mean such construction of it as to deprive it
of the meaning intended. Penal statutes must be construed in the sense which best harmonizes
with their intent and purpose. (U.S. v. Betteridge 43 F. Supp. 53, 56, cited in 3 Sutherland
Statutory Construction 56.)
As well stated by the Supreme Court of the United States, the language of criminal statutes, frequently,
has been narrowed where the letter includes situations inconsistent with the legislative plan (U.S. v. Katz,
271 U.S. 354; See also Ernest Brunchen, Interpretation of the Written Law (1915) 25 Yale L.J. 129.)
Another reason in support of the conclusion reached herein is the fact that the purpose of the statute is to
enlarge the officers within its purview. Justices of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, and various
judges, such as the judges of the Court of Industrial Relations, judges of the Court of Agrarian Relations,
etc., who were not included in the prohibition under the old statute, are now within its encompass. If such

were the evident purpose, can the legislature intend to eliminate the justice of the peace within its orbit?
Certainly not. This point is fully explained in the brief of the Solicitor General, to wit:
On the other hand, when the legislature eliminated the phrases "Judge of First Instance" and
justice of the peace", found in Section 449 of the Revised Administrative Code, and used "judge"
in lieu thereof, the obvious intention was to include in the scope of the term not just one class of
judges but all judges, whether of first Instance justices of the peace or special courts, such as
judges of the Court of Industrial Relations. . . . .
The weakest link in our judicial system is the justice of the peace court, and to so construe the
law as to allow a judge thereof to engage in partisan political activities would weaken rather than
strengthen the judiciary. On the other hand, there are cogent reasons found in the Revised
Election Code itself why justices of the peace should be prohibited from electioneering. Along with
Justices of the appellate courts and judges of the Court of First Instance, they are given authority
and jurisdiction over certain election cases (See Secs. 103, 104, 117-123). Justices of the peace
are authorized to hear and decided inclusion and exclusion cases, and if they are permitted to
campaign for candidates for an elective office the impartiality of their decisions in election cases
would be open to serious doubt. We do not believe that the legislature had, in Section 54 of the
Revised Election Code, intended to create such an unfortunate situation. (pp. 708, Appellant's
Brief.)
Another factor which fortifies the conclusion reached herein is the fact that the administrative or executive
department has regarded justices of the peace within the purview of Section 54 of the Revised Election
Code.
In Tranquilino O. Calo, Jr. v. The Executive Secretary, the Secretary of Justice, etc. (G.R. No. L-12601),
this Court did not give due course to the petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction
against the respondents, for not setting aside, among others, Administrative Order No. 237, dated March
31, 1957, of the President of the Philippines, dismissing the petitioner as justice of the peace of Carmen,
Agusan. It is worthy of note that one of the causes of the separation of the petitioner was the fact that he
was found guilty in engaging in electioneering, contrary to the provisions of the Election Code.
Defendant-appellee calls the attention of this Court to House Bill No. 2676, which was filed on January
25, 1955. In that proposed legislation, under Section 56, justices of the peace are already expressly
included among the officers enjoined from active political participation. The argument is that with the filing
of the said House Bill, Congress impliedly acknowledged that existing laws do not prohibit justices of the
peace from partisan political activities.
The argument is unacceptable. To begin with, House Bill No. 2676 was a proposed amendment to Rep.
Act No. 180 as a whole and not merely to section 54 of said Rep. Act No. 180. In other words, House Bill
No. 2676 was a proposed re-codification of the existing election laws at the time that it was filed. Besides,
the proposed amendment, until it has become a law, cannot be considered to contain or manifest any
legislative intent. If the motives, opinions, and the reasons expressed by the individual members of the
legislature even in debates, cannot be properly taken into consideration in ascertaining the meaning of a
statute (Crawford, Statutory Construction, Sec. 213, pp. 375-376), a fortiori what weight can We give to a
mere draft of a bill.

On law reason and public policy, defendant-appellee's contention that justices of the peace are not
covered by the injunction of Section 54 must be rejected. To accept it is to render ineffective a policy so
clearly and emphatically laid down by the legislature.
Our law-making body has consistently prohibited justices of the peace from participating in partisan
politics. They were prohibited under the old Election Law since 1907 (Act No. 1582 and Act No. 1709).
Likewise, they were so enjoined by the Revised Administrative Code. Another which expressed the
prohibition to them was Act No. 3387, and later, Com. Act No. 357.
Lastly, it is observed that both the Court of Appeals and the trial court applied the rule of "expressio unius,
est exclusion alterius" in arriving at the conclusion that justices of the peace are not covered by Section
54. Said the Court of Appeals: "Anyway, guided by the rule of exclusion, otherwise known as expressio
unius est exclusion alterius, it would not be beyond reason to infer that there was an intention of omitting
the term "justice of the peace from Section 54 of the Revised Election Code. . . ."
The rule has no application. If the legislature had intended to exclude a justice of the peace from the
purview of Section 54, neither the trial court nor the Court of Appeals has given the reason for the
exclusion. Indeed, there appears no reason for the alleged change. Hence, the rule of expressio unius est
exclusion alterius has been erroneously applied. (Appellant's Brief, p. 6.)
Where a statute appears on its face to limit the operation of its provisions to particular persons or
things by enumerating them, but no reason exists why other persons or things not so enumerated
should not have been included, and manifest injustice will follow by not so including them, the
maxim expressio unius est exclusion alterius, should not be invoked. (Blevins v. Mullally 135 p.
307, 22 Cal. App. 519.) .
FOR THE ABOVE REASONS, the order of dismissal entered by the trial court should be set aside and
this case is remanded for trial on the merits.
Bengzon, C.J., Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Concepcion, Barrera and Makalintal, JJ., concur.
Padilla and Dizon, JJ., took no part.
Reyes, J.B.L., J., is on leave.

Case no: 7
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC

G.R. No. 123169 November 4, 1996

DANILO E. PARAS, petitioner,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent.
RESOLUTION

FRANCISCO, J.:
Petitioner Danilo E. Paras is the incumbent Punong Barangay of Pula, Cabanatuan City who
won during the last regular barangay election in 1994. A petition for his recall as Punong
Barangay was filed by the registered voters of the barangay. Acting on the petition for recall,
public respondent Commission on Elections (COMELEC) resolved to approve the petition,
scheduled the petition signing on October 14, 1995, and set the recall election on November 13,
1995. 1 At least 29.30% of the registered voters signed the petition, well above the 25%
requirement provided by law. The COMELEC, however, deferred the recall election in view of
petitioner's opposition. On December 6, 1995, the COMELEC set anew the recall election, this
time on December 16, 1995. To prevent the holding of the recall election, petitioner filed before
the Regional Trial Court of Cabanatuan City a petition for injunction, docketed as SP Civil Action
No. 2254-AF, with the trial court issuing a temporary restraining order. After conducting a
summary hearing, the trial court lifted the restraining order, dismissed the petition and required
petitioner and his counsel to explain why they should not be cited for contempt for
misrepresenting that the barangay recall election was without COMELEC approval. 2
In a resolution dated January 5, 1996, the COMELEC, for the third time, re-scheduled the recall
election an January 13, 1996; hence, the instant petition for certiorari with urgent prayer for
injunction. On January 12, 1996, the Court issued a temporary restraining order and required
the Office of the Solicitor General, in behalf of public respondent, to comment on the petition. In
view of the Office of the Solicitor General's manifestation maintaining an opinion adverse to that
of the COMELEC, the latter through its law department filed the required comment. Petitioner
thereafter filed a reply. 3
Petitioner's argument is simple and to the point. Citing Section 74 (b) of Republic Act No. 7160,
otherwise known as the Local Government Code, which states that "no recall shall take place
within one (1) year from the date of the official's assumption to office or one (1) year
immediately preceding a regular local election", petitioner insists that the scheduled January 13,
1996 recall election is now barred as the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) election was set by
Republic Act No. 7808 on the first Monday of May 1996, and every three years thereafter. In
support thereof, petitioner cites Associated Labor Union v. Letrondo-Montejo, 237 SCRA 621,
where the Court considered the SK election as a regular local election. Petitioner maintains that
as the SK election is a regular local election, hence no recall election can be had for barely four
months separate the SK election from the recall election. We do not agree.
The subject provision of the Local Government Code provides:

Sec. 74. Limitations on Recall. (a) Any elective local official may be the subject
of a recall election only once during his term of office for loss of confidence.
(b) No recall shall take place within one (1) year from the date of the official's
assumption to office or one (1) year immediately preceding a regular local
election.
[Emphasis added]
It is a rule in statutory construction that every part of the statute must be interpreted with
reference to the context,i.e., that every part of the statute must be considered together with the
other parts, and kept subservient to the general intent of the whole enactment. 4 The evident
intent of Section 74 is to subject an elective local official to recall election once during his term
of office. Paragraph (b) construed together with paragraph (a) merely designates the period
when such elective local official may be subject of a recall election, that is, during the second
year of his term of office. Thus, subscribing to petitioner's interpretation of the phrase regular
local election to include the SK election will unduly circumscribe the novel provision of the Local
Government Code on recall, a mode of removal of public officers by initiation of the people
before the end of his term. And if the SK election which is set by R.A No. 7808 to be held every
three years from May 1996 were to be deemed within the purview of the phrase "regular local
election", as erroneously insisted by petitioner, then no recall election can be conducted
rendering inutile the recall provision of the Local Government Code.
In the interpretation of a statute, the Court should start with the assumption that the legislature
intended to enact an effective law, and the legislature is not presumed to have done a vain thing
in the enactment of a statute. 5 An interpretation should, if possible, be avoided under which a
statute or provision being construed is defeated, or as otherwise expressed, nullified, destroyed,
emasculated, repealed, explained away, or rendered insignificant, meaningless, inoperative or
nugatory. 6
It is likewise a basic precept in statutory construction that a statute should be interpreted in
harmony with the Constitution. 7 Thus, the interpretation of Section 74 of the Local Government
Code, specifically paragraph (b) thereof, should not be in conflict with the Constitutional
mandate of Section 3 of Article X of the Constitution to "enact a local government code which
shall provide for a more responsive and accountable local government structure instituted
through a system of decentralization with effective mechanism of recall, initiative, and
referendum . . . ."
Moreover, petitioner's too literal interpretation of the law leads to absurdity which we cannot
countenance. Thus, in a case, the Court made the following admonition:
We admonish against a too-literal reading of the law as this is apt to constrict
rather than fulfill its purpose and defeat the intention of its authors. That intention
is usually found not in "the letter that killeth but in the spirit that vivifieth". . . 8

The spirit, rather than the letter of a law determines its construction; hence, a statute, as
in this case, must be read according to its spirit and intent.
Finally, recall election is potentially disruptive of the normal working of the local government unit
necessitating additional expenses, hence the prohibition against the conduct of recall election
one year immediately preceding the regular local election. The proscription is due to the
proximity of the next regular election for the office of the local elective official concerned. The
electorate could choose the official's replacement in the said election who certainly has a longer
tenure in office than a successor elected through a recall election. It would, therefore, be more
in keeping with the intent of the recall provision of the Code to construe regular local election as
one referring to an election where the office held by the local elective official sought to be
recalled will be contested and be filled by the electorate.
Nevertheless, recall at this time is no longer possible because of the limitation stated under
Section 74 (b) of the Code considering that the next regular election involving the barangay
office concerned is barely seven (7) months away, the same having been scheduled on May
1997. 9
ACCORDINGLY, the petition is hereby dismissed for having become moot and academic. The
temporary restraining order issued by the Court on January 12, 1996, enjoining the recall
election should be as it is hereby made permanent.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Padilla, Regalado, Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza,
Hermosisima, Jr., Panganiban and Torres, Jr., JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions

DAVIDE, JR., J., concurring:


I concur with Mr. Justice Ricardo J. Francisco in his ponencia.
However, I wish to add another reason as to why the SK election cannot be considered a
"regular local election" for purposes of recall under Section 74 of the Local Government Code of
1991.
The term "regular local election" must be confined to the regular election of elective local
officials, as distinguished from the regular election of national officials. The elective national
officials are the President, Vice-President, Senators and Congressmen. The elective local
officials are Provincial Governors, Vice-Governors of provinces, Mayors and Vice-Mayors of

cities and municipalities, Members of the Sanggunians of provinces, cities and


municipalities, punong barangays and members of the sangguniang barangays, and the elective
regional officials of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. These are the only local
elective officials deemed recognized by Section 2(2) of Article IX-C of the Constitution, which
provides:
Sec. 2. The Commission on Elections shall exercise the following powers and
functions:
xxx xxx xxx
(2) Exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over all contests relating to the
elections, returns, and qualifications of all elective regional, provincial, and city
officials, and appellate jurisdiction over all contests involving elective municipal
officials decided by trial courts of general jurisdiction, or involving elective
barangay officials decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction.
A regular election, whether national or local, can only refer to an election participated in by
those who possess the right of suffrage, are not otherwise disqualified by law, and who are
registered voters. One of the requirements for the exercise of suffrage under Section 1, Article V
of the Constitution is that the person must be at least 18 years of age, and one requisite before
he can vote is that he be a registered voter pursuant to the rules on registration prescribed in
the Omnibus Election Code (Section 113-118).
Under the law, the SK includes the youth with ages ranging from 15 to 21 (Sec. 424, Local
Government Code of 1991). Accordingly, they include many who are not qualified to vote in a
regular election, viz., those from ages 15 to less than 18. In no manner then may SK elections
be considered a regular election (whether national or local).
Indeed the Sangguniang Kabataan is nothing more than a youth organization, and although fully
recognized in the Local Government Code and vested with certain powers and functions, its
elective officials have not attained the status of local elective officials. So, in Mercado vs. Board
of Election Supervisors (243 SCRA 422 [1995]), this Court ruled that although the SK Chairman
is an ex-officio member of the sangguniang barangay an elective body that fact does not
make him "an elective barangay official," since the law specifically provides who comprise
the elective officials of the sangguniang barangay, viz., the punong barangay and the seven (7)
regularsangguniang barangay members elected at large by those qualified to exercise the right
of suffrage under Article V of the Constitution, who are likewise registered voters of
the barangay. This shows further that the SK election is not a regular local election for purposes
of recall under Section 74 of the Local Government Code.

Separate Opinions

DAVIDE, JR., J., concurring:


I concur with Mr. Justice Ricardo J. Francisco in his ponencia.
However, I wish to add another reason as to why the SK election cannot be considered a
"regular local election" for purposes of recall under Section 74 of the Local Government Code of
1991.
The term "regular local election" must be confined to the regular election of elective local
officials, as distinguished from the regular election of national officials. The elective national
officials are the President, Vice-President, Senators and Congressmen. The elective local
officials are Provincial Governors, Vice-Governors of provinces, Mayors and Vice-Mayors of
cities and municipalities, Members of the Sanggunians of provinces, cities and
municipalities, punong barangays and members of the sangguniang barangays, and the elective
regional officials of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. These are the only local
elective officials deemed recognized by Section 2(2) of Article IX-C of the Constitution, which
provides:
Sec. 2. The Commission on Elections shall exercise the following powers and
functions:
xxx xxx xxx
(2) Exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over all contests relating to the
elections, returns, and qualifications of all elective regional, provincial, and city
officials, and appellate jurisdiction over all contests involving elective municipal
officials decided by trial courts of general jurisdiction, or involving elective
barangay officials decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction.
A regular election, whether national or local, can only refer to an election participated in by
those who possess the right of suffrage, are not otherwise disqualified by law, and who are
registered voters. One of the requirements for the exercise of suffrage under Section 1, Article V
of the Constitution is that the person must be at least 18 years of age, and one requisite before
he can vote is that he be a registered voter pursuant to the rules on registration prescribed in
the Omnibus Election Code (Section 113-118).
Under the law, the SK includes the youth with ages ranging from 15 to 21 (Sec. 424, Local
Government Code of 1991). Accordingly, they include many who are not qualified to vote in a
regular election, viz., those from ages 15 to less than 18. In no manner then may SK elections
be considered a regular election (whether national or local).
Indeed the Sangguniang Kabataan is nothing more than a youth organization, and although fully
recognized in the Local Government Code and vested with certain powers and functions, its
elective officials have not attained the status of local elective officials. So, in Mercado vs. Board
of Election Supervisors (243 SCRA 422 [1995]), this Court ruled that although the SK Chairman

is an ex-officio member of the sangguniang barangay an elective body that fact does not
make him "an elective barangay official," since the law specifically provides who comprise
the elective officials of the sangguniang barangay, viz., the punong barangay and the seven (7)
regularsangguniang barangay members elected at large by those qualified to exercise the right
of suffrage under Article V of the Constitution, who are likewise registered voters of
the barangay. This shows further that the SK election is not a regular local election for purposes
of recall under Section 74 of the Local Government Code.
Narvasa, C.J., Padilla, Regalado, Bellosillo, Vitug and Mendoza, JJ., concur

Case no: 8

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-17750

August 31, 1962

A. L. AMMEN TRANSPORTATION COMPANY, INC., and CONSOLIDATED AUTO LINES,


INC., petitioners,
vs.
JOSE BORJA, respondent.
Manuel O. Chan for petitioners.
Madrid Law Office for respondent.
DIZON, J.:
Appeal by certiorari taken by A. L. Ammen Transportation Co., Inc. and Consolidated Auto
Lines, Inc. from an order of the Court of Industrial Relations in Case No. 6-V Bicol dated May 9,
1960 and its Resolution of August 27, 1960 denying their motion for reconsideration. The
dispositive part of the appealed order is as follows:
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, respondents are hereby ordered to pay petitioner for
the services rendered by the latter in excess of eight hours a day from January 1, 1952
up to and including March 10, 1957. In connection herewith, the Chief Examiner and
Economist of this Court or his duly authorized representative is hereby directed to
proceed to the premises of the respondents and make the necessary computations to
determine the exact amount due to the petitioner. The computation of the number of
hours worked in excess of eight hours a day should be based on the inspector's
notebook of the petitioner and/or the abstract thereof in the possession of the

respondents. The count should start from the first inspection up to the last, as stated in
said inspector's notebooks. But in no case shall count be stopped until 6:00 P.M.
because if the last inspection was terminated before said time, petitioner was given
investigation work.
The bonus of P30.00 a month is to be included as part of the basic salary of the
petitioner, it having been regularly given by respondents since 1951 for some meritorious
work rendered by petitioner and should, therefore, be deemed as part of his regular
salary. However, an allowance of 30 minutes a day for lunch break should be deducted
from the total number of working hours rendered by petitioner. Further, the work not in
excess of eight hours a day, rendered by petitioner for respondents during Sundays and
holidays should not be considered as compensable overtime work because the
respondents are public service corporations.
Respondent Jose Borja was employed by petitioners as Supervising Inspector, with a basic
salary of P180.00 a month, P3.00 daily per diems, and a monthly bonus of P30.00, from
January 1, 1952 to March 10, 1957 when he was dismissed from the service.
On April 15, 1958 respondent filed an action against petitioners in the Court of First Instance of
Albay (Civil Case No. 1905) to recover compensation for overtime work rendered by him during
the above-mentioned period, a damages. In their answer, petitioners denied respondent claim
for overtime pay, and alleged, by way of affirmative defense, that respondent had filed the same
claim with Department of Labor, Regional Office No. IV at Naga City on May 29, 1957 but the
same was dismissed with prejudice upon the latter's petition, on April 30, 1958.
Pending trial of the abovementioned case, respondent commenced the present proceedings in
the Court of Industrial Relations substantially reproducing the claim involve in Civil Case No.
1905. Petitioners, after likewise producing their answer in said case, asserted, by way additional
affirmative defense, the pendency of Civil Case No. 1905 between the same parties and for the
same cause. .
After due trial, the Court of Industrial Relations issued its order of May 9, 1960 and its resolution
of August 27, 1960 subject of the present appeal.
To reverse the order and resolution appealed from, petitioner contends that the Court of
Industrial Relations erred firstly, in not holding that respondent's cause of action has prescribed;
secondly, in taking cognizance of this case although it had no jurisdiction over the same; and
lastly, in disregarding petitioner's memorandum to the respondent prohibiting him to work in
excess of eight (8) hours daily.
On the question of prescription, petitioner claims the respondent's action was commenced only
in December 1958; that in accordance with Republic Act 1994, amending Commonwealth Act
No. 444, any action to enforce a cause action under said Act shall be commenced within three
(3) years after its accrual; that respondent's cause of action having accrued more than three
years before December 1958, his action was filed too late.1wph1.t

We find petitioner's contention to be untenable. The Court of Industrial Relations made a finding
of fact the effect that respondent had commenced his action against petitioner before June 22,
1957 the effective date of Republic Act No. 1994, amending Commonwealth Act No. 444.
This finding is not now reviewable.
But even on the merits, petitioner's contention is without merit. Respondent itself admitted in its
answer dated May 6, 1959, filed in the above-mentioned case No. 6-V Bicol, that petitioner had
originally filed his complaint with the Department of Labor, Regional Office No. 4 on May 29,
1957. It is clear therefore that his action had already been commenced before the effective date
of Republic Act 1994, and is covered by the exception provided for therein.
But petitioner contends in this regard that the phrase "actions already commenced" employed in
the statute should be construed as meaning only actions filed in a regular court of justice. With
this limited and narrow interpretation, we can not agree. The statute under consideration is
undoubtedly a labor statute and, as such, must be liberally construed in favor of the laborer
concerned. (Art. 1702, New Civil Code). Consequently, the term "actions" should include every
judicial and administrative proceeding intended to enforce a right or secure redress for a wrong
already committed. Since respondent admittedly first filed his claim against petitioner with the
Department of Labor on May 29, 1957, in accordance with laws then in force, it seems clear
that, as already stated, it is covered by the exception provided for in Republic Act No. 1994,
whose date of effectivity was June 22, 1957.
On the question of jurisdiction, petitioner claims that, as respondent sought to collect overtime
wages, and nothing more, this case was not within the jurisdiction of the Court of Industrial
Relations.
This is also without merit. The complaint filed by respondent with the Court of Industrial
Relations alleged, inter alia, that he "was' separated automatically from the said employment
with defendants, and notwithstanding pleas for reinstatement defendants refused and still refuse
to reinstate plaintiff", and, aside from some specific reliefs, respondent herein also asked that
"other reliefs be granted him".
A reasonable interpretation of respondent's pleading fully justifies the opinion of the Court of
Industrial Relations to the effect that respondent, aside from overtime wages, also sought
reinstatement. The case, therefore, was within the jurisdiction of said Court.
In connection with its last contention, petitioner claims that the Court of Industrial Relations
erred in disregarding the memorandum of the company prohibiting respondent from working in
excess of eight hours daily. Such memorandum could not fairly apply to respondent because
according to the Court of Industrial Relations, there sufficient evidence showing that inspite of it,
respondent had received verbal instructions from superior authority to inspect the first trip, noon
trip, and last trip; that this connection he had submitted to petitioner a daily report of inspection
which stated the period or number hours he had worked for the day, and that since January 1,
1952 up to and including March 10, 1957, respondent had been rendering overtime service with

full knowledge petitioner. All these show conclusively that the Court Industrial Relations was
right in awarding to respondent the corresponding overtime compensation.
WHEREFORE, the order and resolution appealed from are affirmed, with costs.
Bengzon, C.J., Padilla, Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Concepcion, Reyes, J.B.L., Barrera,
Paredes, Dizon, Regala and Makalintal, JJ., concur.